The Power of Restorative Justice with Lara Bazelon
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The Power of Restorative Justice with Lara Bazelon

>> Dr. Tom Morgan. Good evening, everybody. Thank you all for coming. Delighted to have you for our third program in a series of five programs this Academic Year dealing with the questions of justice, and justice for all. My name is Tom Morgan. I’m the director of the Alworth Center for the study of peace and justice here at St. Scholastica. And again, thank you all for coming. These lectures are sponsored by the Alworth Center for the study of peace and justice. And funded in part by the Warner lecture series of the Manitou Fund, the Dewitt and Carolyn Vanever foundation and the Mary C. Vanever foundation endowed fund in honor of William a trustee of the college. Additional support has been received from thealworth institute at the University of Minnesota Dell loot and the Department of World languages and cultures of Reader Weekly from Duluth and from many numerous other private donors. Thank you all very much for your continued support. Moral support. And financial support. They are both appreciated. Those of you who aren’t on our mailing list or our sign-up sheets or our email lists, there are paper and pencil out in the lobby for you to fill out, if you want to receive more information about upcoming programs. Put your email address, nice and clear so we can read it. Or your street address or both. If you put your street address, you’ll get postcards in the mail from us. Also out in the lobby there is at least one table with information available for — from the UMD Department of Criminology and restorative justice. And you’re welcome to look at that, of course, after the lecture. Next week on Monday, as we so often do, we are all invited to gather again to talk about what we’re about to hear tonight and to try to analyze it and make some sense out of it and maybe think about where to go from there. From here. You all should have had flyers like this in your hand. That’s information about where the next talks back session will be, first Lutheran Church. Monday, 7 p.m. and the two facilitators Don Strufort and Ted Lewis and their biographies and credentials are on that sheet so I invite you to look at that. After the formal presentation tonight, then we’ll invite you to ask questions of our speaker. Make your questions crisp and to the point. One speech a night is enough. But we invite you to ask questions. And if you have questions and want to talk about a particular issue that the speaker raises then just come to one of these microphones and you’ll be recognized in turn. Students come forward and you community people do the right thing and defer to the students. Let them go first. Because they pay a lot for this. They deserve to go first. (Chuckles).>>But I think there will be time for questions for everybody. On the screens to my right and to my left we’re displaying the text of tonight’s lecture through technology called real-time captioning. Although we anticipate a high-quality format, there will inevitably be errors that are inherent to the technology. Special thank you to the Edwin H. Eddie foundation whose generous support makes this inclusive service possible. Speaking of technology, if you’ve got any in your pocket or your purse, now would be a good time to turn it off so you can give all of your attention to the speaker. Our speaker this evening is a professor of law and the director of the Criminal Juvenile Justice and Racial Justice Clinical Programs at the University of San Francisco School of Law. Lara Bazelon is a graduation of the New York University School of Law. From 2012 to 2015 she was a visiting associate clinical professor at Loyola Law School and the director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent. Currently she’s a member of the Board of the Project for the Innocent. Professor Bazelon was a trial attorney in the office of the Federal Public Defender in Los Angeles for seven years and prior to that she was a law clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Professor Bazelon’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of ethics and criminal justice advocacy. She is the Co-Chair of the American Bar Association’s Ethics, Gideon & Professionalism Committee and serves on the Association’s Criminal Justice Council, Criminal Justice Section Women’s Task Force and is a reporter for the Association’s Ethics and Forensics Task Force. Professor Bazelon is a contributing writer for Slate and POLITICO magazine where her long-form journalism and opinion pieces appear regularly, including a long-running series in Slate on issues arising from wrongful convictions. Her essays and op-eds have also been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic, San Francisco Cronical and Los Angeles Times. Professor Bazelon’s book Rectify, it’s up there on the screen. “Rectify: The Power of Restorative Justice After Wrongful Conviction”, was published in October of 2018. It will be on sale after the lecture. And if you play your cards right, you’ll get her to autograph the book if you want to buy one. She is the recipient of a writer-in-residency award from the MacDowell Colony in 2016 and from the Mesa refuge in 2017 where she was named the Jacob and Valeria Langecloth Fellow for excellence in writing about issues relating to the criminal justice system. In her spare time Professor Bazelon enjoys joyful dinners and time alone to write. And she looks after and tries to keep up with her two children, Carter age 10, and Ella, 8. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Professor Lara Bazelon. (Applause).>>LARA BAZELON: Thank you. Thank you, everyone. Thank you so much, Dr. Morgan, for that introduction. And thank you to the Alworth’s and to President McDonald for this lovely welcome. I’m really pleased to be here with all of you. I know that Dr. Morgan had mentioned that one speech is long enough. And I’m going to make this as much as I cannot a speech and more of a conversation and I’m very much looking forward to really talking to all of you in the question and answer part. So before we get there, I wanted to start with sort of the premise behind this book, which is basic questions of why do wrongful convictions happen? Who are the survivors of wrongful convictions? And what does life look for them afterwards? So this started for me in this really personal way because that was me, I was the attorney in this case called in re Cash register. Cash was my client actually that’s his given name his mom named him Cash and his last name was Register and he was convicted in 1979 of killing an elderly white man in a robbery. He was innocent. However, his lawyer really didn’t marshal the evidence to show that. And more importantly the eyewitnesses against him were not fact eyewitnesses at all. They lied for their own reasons and the prosecution pretty much knew that but were more interested in putting him away than in finding the truth. And so as a result he was incarcerated from 1979 until this day when this picture was taken, which was November the 7th, 2013. And that was the day after a very long retrial that the judge overturned his conviction. And so in litigating this case, I brought my Public Defender mentality which had served me well in an adversarial context because I was trained to be a trial lawyer and I’m a good trial lawyer that’s because I adopted an adversarial mindset and that was the mindset that allowed me to cross-examine all of the witnesses that the prosecution brought to try to show that this case somehow had some kind of legitimacy when it really didn’t. And just facedown repeated efforts to spite us in our efforts to free our client. And it was very I think disappointing also to me somewhat embittering dealing with the Los Angeles attorneys office I’ll be honest with you we came to them a month before the trial and laid out all of the evidence that we had found including evidence that strongly suggested from their own files that they had held back exculpatory information. That they had essentially bribed some witnesses to say some things that weren’t true that there was all of this other extenuating information that very clearly showed that he did not do it and rather than concede error and dismiss the case which is what we hoped they would do they forced it all the way through to the retrial. Concede error. And one of the things that stuck out to me about this retrial was that the victim’s family came to the retrial and the prosecution of course had told them it was a terrible injustice and so awful they were going to have to go through this again and the whole thing was a sham don’t worry he’ll be convicted all over again for the family sitting there every day watching the prosecution’s case unravel and seeing really it was built on a House of Cards and just sort of a castle really of lies was very upsetting even from the point of view of being my client’s lawyer and for the first time in my legal career I started really thinking about the victims. And who are the victims. And of course my client was a victim of what happened. And at the time that this happened, he was with someone. She was having a baby. So when she had the baby, he was in jail. He never saw his daughter outside of jail. They were separated basically for 34 years. He ended up not staying with her mother, which is very typical in these circumstances when you believe that the person is never going to get out, which was the verdict and the sentence. His mother had to spend 34 years without him. And just the suffering that this family went through when his brother died, for example, or his father died, he couldn’t go to the funeral and I was very focused really on my client’s suffering and what he had been through because it was very motivating for me in terms of my representation and also because he testified at the trial and it was important to bring all of this out and show the judge not only was he innocent but this is also someone who was a decent person and a good person and someone who really would do well in the outside world. But I really started to think during this trial about the victim’s family and how they were also victims in what had happened and that they had been victimized by the system which had promised them this outcome of delivering this verdict and delivering justice to them. And instead had served up an innocent person and incarcerated them and told this family all of these lies. And it seems to me that there was this huge problem that this case had exposed, which is that we have a very binary way of looking at the criminal justice system, which is we think about it as right and wrong, us versus them we think about somebody winning and somebody losing we think about it in black versus white and often that’s literal which I’ll get to the racial implications of all of this in a minute and we really think about it as good versus evil. And as I said, it’s so much more complicated than that. And also there are victims and perpetrators often on both sides. And another thing that we don’t think about is kind of the circle of victims and this was also brought home to me in this case because when Cash was Exxonrated in 2013 he had done the most time at that point of any exoneree in history in the United States now sadly that record has been broken by other exonerees but at the time 34 years was the longest because of that, because of his name and because of some of the more extraordinary circumstances of the case it got a lot of media attention as a result of that one of the jurors read about it. And he wrote me an email. And in the email he said that he was absolutely horrified to learn the truth of this case and that he had participated in the conviction of an innocent person, which is something that he was going to have to carry with him for the rest of his life. And I’ve talked a bit about how I think that there were bad actors in this case. I think the police and prosecutors in Cash’s case were truly bad actors not just in his case but other cases but oftentimes there are mistakes there are legitimate good faith mistakes by law enforcement and then they too have guilt to carry around. So you can see how the circle of victims is concentric and keeps kind of rippling outward. So I started anything about, well, how many other victims and how many other exonerees are there we know because this organization called the National Registry of Exonerations that there are several thousands that’s just the exonerees so multiply outward and talk about all of the people who have been impacted in the way I’ve discussed and I started focusing on this one case in Virginia because I thought it was pretty extraordinary and yet also typical. So I’m going to talk to you a bit about that. The victim in this case, Janet Burk you’re looking at a picture of here, she was 18 years old living in Richmond, Virginia and working at a daycare center taking care of kids. It was in a church. She was opening up the center one morning. And a man broke in, a black man. And he violently raped her. And she did what victims are supposed to do which is that she went to the police. She reported the attack. She went to the hospital. And it turned out there was a spree it started with her but then there were four other people to whom something similar had happened. So I’m showing you part of this slide. And the first date January the 3rd, 1984 is when Janet was attacked and then there were four other attacks and they had very similar MOs or modis operandi the police were fixated on finding the person and particularly fixated because it was a black man attacking white women so this case had very high priority in Richmond. So what happened was that one of the people who had been attacked saw a man on the street one day. And the man that she saw was an 18-year-old named Thomas Hanesworth she saw him and called the police and said that’s the person I think who attacked me so Thomas Hanesworth with no criminal record was sent to the stor on Sunday to buy sweet potatoes for dinner was surrounded by police and there was a show-up identification where they brought the victim to the scene there he was in handcuffs surrounded by police and they said is that him and she said I think so that was enough to arrest him so that was about a month after Janet was attacked and that’s what’s sort of interesting is that Thomas remained in jail. He never actually was out of jail again for another 26 years. But in the meantime all of these attacks kept on happening. So long after he was incarcerated more and more women were attacked in a similar way but nonetheless the police didn’t put the blue together with the red and were convinced they had the right person so Thomas Hanesworth was tried in back to back to back to back trials and kept saying he was innocent and he told me really outside of his family no one believed him in the jail he was religious they sensed the chaplain — they sent the chaplain in to speak with him and when he told the chaplain and his wife about these charges and explained, but I’m innocent of all five of them, there was this look of disbelief on the face of this man and his wife and he said they got up and left really quickly after that. And in fact the jury also didn’t believe that Thomas was innocent and he was convicted first in Janet’s trial and then he was convicted in two other trials. And at 19 he was sentenced to 74 years in prison. And then after Thomas had been arrested and convicted because it happened very fast, within about a period of six months a man named Leon Davis Jr. was arrested that happened on December 19th so the very end of the year and that was the end of the crime spree. It just stopped. So here are the mugshots of Thomas Hanesworth and Leon Davis Jr. side by side. And I think it’s interesting to think about these pictures and the way this whole thing went down. Leon Davis Jr. was never in any kind of photographic identifications that Janet or any of the other women were asked to look at so when Janet was brought a sheet of pictures, there were six pictures and Thomas’ picture was in it Leon Davis Jr.’s picture wasn’t in it they didn’t have him in that lineup they didn’t think he was a suspect and didn’t think he was someone in the jail population that they wanted to include because he looked similar he just wasn’t there. And what studies show is that when you have a victim, particularly of a violent crime like this who is in fear of their life and you tell that person, which is what they told Janet, we have a suspect in custody, we would like to see if you can make an identification, those words sound really innocuous. But what Janet heard was, we have this person. You just have to find him. And at that point what happens is your mind engages in something called relative judgment. Which means your mind thinks it’s a multiple choice test and you need to get the right answer so you’re going to pick the person who looks the most like the right answer. And in this case, what Janet did was what almost any reasonable person would do under the circumstances which is mistakenly but in good faith pick the person who looked the most like the person who had attacked her and she picked the wrong person. And I talk about this in the book. It’s called — I call it the perils of identification but really it’s the perils of cross racial identification. And I’m sure you’ve all seen TV shows and movies where there’s this very dramatic moment and the prosecutor says to the witness, do you see the person who did this in the courtroom and they point and they say that’s him and there’s this dramatic moment and there’s really nothing like that as a defense attorney I can tell you once someone identifies your client and says they are 100% certain, it’s very, very hard to undermine that certainty and that juries listen to that and see that identification and they think, okay, that’s who it is. And witnesses sound credible because they truly believe that that’s who it is and that’s what Janet believed so this is a different case than Cash’s where witnesses came in and had their own agendas and getting side deals and they were lying. She wasn’t lying she really believed she had the right person but she was wrong so the other part of the problem is the sincerity of the identification which the jurors also interpret as a reason to think it’s credible and in this case each woman was convinced that the perpetrator was Thomas Hanesworth. They all picked up and 8 months and 6 days after he had abouten arrested and convicted and judged a repeated sexual violent predator they arrested this other man for crimes that were very similar this is a picture of Thomas during his younger years in prison with his mom, his siblings and his niece. A lot of people have a hard time wrapping their mind around this idea that we can convict people wrongfully because it seems like our justice system is set up in a way that’s supposed to make sure that that does not happen and maybe you’re thinking oh well she’s telling me this story about cross racial mistaken identification but that was from 1984 and surely we have moved on from that point. And it’s sad for me to say this to you but in fact I don’t believe that we have moved at all. In the spring I taught criminal procedure to a room full of students not this big but pretty big we went through the United States Supreme Court’s case law on eyewitness identification and they allow all of the things I’ve been talking about and they have allowed other things, too. It’s depressing to me that in 2019 I’m teaching the same cases that are the cases that were guiding the prosecutors and the judges and the defense lawyers when Thomas Hanesworth was tried and convicted in fact my students and I in the racial justice clinic are representing someone right now who was convicted in Louisiana in 2013 on a single cross-racial identification. So we believe that at least 2200 people have been exonerated but actually that number is higher because the slide is a little bit dated there’s an organization that keeps track of every single one starting in 1989 and every year it seems that it goes up and I can tell you that last year I just checked there were 181 people who were exonerated so we just sort of keep breaking the records year after year. And part of that is that we’re getting better and better at uncovering some of these cases. So some people want to know, okay, how exactly do these things happen? And what we know is that with DNA identification, misidentifications, and this is ultimately what happened in Thomas’ case and in my rape cases especially from the ’80s and ’90s there wasn’t DNA technology available and then there was much, much later post-conviction and they looked at the first 200 of those DNA exonerations I’m sure you’ve read about some of the the more famous ones and 154 of them involved mistaken identifications of which 50% were cross racial so this is a pattern that repeats itself again and again and we also know the first 1600 exonerations there were 55% with some false testimony again going back to my client’s case outright lies people come and tell at trial and 45% involve some kind of misconduct by police or prosecutors or both and there’s a lot of overlap in the Venn diagram with false testimony because a lot of times they are actually illiciting false testimony knowing it. I’ve been asked how many people in the United States have been wrongfully convicted and that’s a hard number. Because we don’t know. The very, very conservative estimates are somewhere between 1 and 10% so if you take that middle number, sort of around 5%, you get about 63,000 people, which is the capacity of Soldier Field where the Chicago Bears play. I actually personally believe it’s much higher and I’ll tell you why. I think that there are many, many wrongful convictions that happen at a lower level at a misdemeanor level more petty offense level the reason why I believe that is because we have some examples and I think 2017 in a county called Harris County which encompasses Houston and Texas there were over 125 people who were exonerated of these low level felonies because they were all pulled over on suspicion of carrying drugs or some other thing and the police did this in the field test where they tested the substances they found in the field and these tests were bogus and these people were in jail they couldn’t make bail and wanted to get back to their families they wanted their jobs back their lively had been completely upended and disrupted and they were offered a deal they could plead guilty to a felony and get out or they could stay in fight their case and be in jail for months so many of them over 125 they took the deal Harris County is one of the few counties that test substances post-conviction so after lab results came back and found that a lot of this stuff, this so-called drugs was things like flour and sugar and jolly ranchers which I don’t know how you can think jolly rancher is a drug but apparently they did so we know from this one county in one year we get 125 people that’s simply the county is different than other counties because they to say post con — they test post-convictions and if every county did that we would find tens of thousands people pleading guilty to low level felonies to get out because they are desperate to get out because they are poor can’t make bail and plead guilty even though they are innocent I think that number is extraordinarily high the problem is that we lack resources to uncover those because if you’re someone like me someone is coming to you and saying I have this person I really need to overturn their conviction well where are they, you say they are out they plead to a felony ten years ago if you’re me you’re thinking I have this guy in Louisiana and he’s doing 60 years of hard labor with no possibility of parole so that guy will come first there aren’t a lot of innocence projects or innocence advocates or pro bono lawyers who have the time and resources to look at low level cases and that’s why I think the number is much, much higher than we think. So getting back to this whole idea about wounds after conviction and of course this is true in a quote-unqoute rightful conviction case but what struck me about the wrongful conviction cases interviewing Janet and Thomas because I spent a lot of time with both of them was that they both experienced really similar emotions. In different — for different reasons. But similar emotions. They both have post-traumatic stress. They both felt rage and shame. They both felt a sense of guilt. They felt very isolated. They both had suffered from a loss of a life plan. Thomas had wanted to ironically go to the Police Academy and become a police officer. Janet had wanted to go to college. She dropped out and was just not able to continue. Their lives took these really different turns they were sort of almost arrested in time by this event. And so what they were going through in parallel ways was eerily similar when I was speaking to them. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself so I’ll tell you what happened to Thomas Hanesworth and to Janet so in 2001 this is a long time after Thomas had been convicted Virginia passed a law that allowed people like Thomas to ask for DNA testing so Thomas petitioned and petitioned and finally got this young woman interested in helping him named Shaun running a small innocence project based out of Washington D.C. so she pressed the people in Virginia and they kept telling her we don’t keep all of that stuff we destroy it but what was really interesting was that the criminologist in Thomas’s case was a woman named Mary Jo Burton she was unusual she kept all of the evidence she tested she kept snippets of it inside her files so they pulled her files even though the lab destroyed everything her files had the labs from DNA’s in Janet’s case she testified in Janet’s case and she also testified in the case of Marvin Anderson who would become Thomas Hanesworth’s friend because they were really close friends in prison so when the rape kit came back in Marvin’s case he was only convicted in a single case it was a cross racial identification his case was overturned based on evidence pointing to someone else and he was pardoned and at that point there was concern feeling like maybe there are more people out of Marvin Anderson are out there that’s when all of Mary Jo Burton’s files were retested and that’s when Thomas’ case caught some traction and Shaun was able to convince them to test the evidence in Janet’s case they found out needless to say that the actual rapist was Leon Davis Jr. the way they delivered this news was that they tried to go to the house where Janet had lived when she had been raped, which was her parents’ house of course this is 26 years later the mom directs them to her house where she lives with her two kids they come and it’s a Sunday she thinks they are coming to tell her Thomas had another parole hearing because they would always come to her and she would write a letter objecting to it and then they told her earth shattering news they leave and they said I wouldn’t worry about it too much because he wasn’t such a great guy anyway and that was basically the last that she had ever heard from the police or the prosecutors in that case. And then Thomas found out the way most people who are in custody find out he got a letter. He really understandably couldn’t believe it so he asked his cell mate tell me if this says what I think it says and he says yeah that’s what it says and the relief that Thomas felt that someone believed him finally was overwhelming. So this case, the breaking open of this case raises all of the issues that I was talking about about cross racial identification and police practices and wanting to do the right thing and victims and concentric circles but Thomas’ case was more complicated because there were two other guilty verdicts against him and Mary Jo Burton hadn’t testified in those other cases so there was no DNA evidence. It had been destroyed and the other two people who had been attacked weren’t taking back their identifications so Thomas’ case posed a really unusual legal case if you believe there was a serial rapist in 1984 you now know he was responsible for 13 attacks and there were three more for which someone else is doing a life sentence but seem the same what do you have to show to get the wrongfully convicted person out from under the convictions you believe this one person was single handedly responsible for this is I think another example and unusual example of restorative litigation which I rarely see I was telling you about my experience with a Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office which was very disillusioning Thomas’ experience with the police and prosecutors and ultimately the Attorney General in Virginia was very different the woman with red hair was her attorney and the men with her are the local DAs in the counties she was convicted when she went to them with Janet’s DNA evidence and this evidence there was someone else who had done these other crimes her belief that that person was responsible for the two remaining convictions those two DAs dug into it and they started to come around to the idea that Thomas was innocent and then they got Janet involved she’s at the bottom Shaun went to talk to her and Janet was really looking for answers at that point and wanting to understand what had happened and kind of make sense of the situation in a way that she hadn’t been able to before Shaun talked to her a lot about wrongful convictions and mistaken identification and also said if you would be willing to come forward even anonymously which of course you’re allowed to be anonymous as a survivor of sexual assault that would be helpful to our case so Janet partnered with the man next to her Frank Green a long term reporter he ran a series of stories that got attention he interviewed Janet. And the gentleman who is on everyone’s the furthest on the right was the Attorney General at that time. His name is Thomas Kuchanelli II he may be familiar to you because he’s now Trump’s immigration czar but at the time he was a State’s Attorney general and considered a rising star in the Tea Party movement and it seemed to these two local prosecutors that this might be the end of the road for Thomas Hanesworth because it was really up to the Attorney General to go to the state’s highest court and argue over whether or not this conviction should be upheld they went and sat down with Kuchanelli talked to him about it he was very interested and then he did his own investigation and he became absolutely convinced that Thomas was innocent. And so this really unusual thing happened which is all of these advocates came together and they decided that they were going to be on the same side so of course we always have the State versus the defendant so State versus Hanesworth the Commonwealth of Virginia versus Hanes worth on this side they came over to Thomas’ side which is very unusual for the Attorney General to do in particular this Attorney General and even that wasn’t enough the Virginia Court of Appeal was extremely skeptical of this they asked the Attorney General to prove to them there was evidence that conclusively established that Leon Davis Jr. was the same man who had raped the two women in the cases where there was no DNA evidence so that was the burden that the Attorney General had. And it’s interesting to me that even with all of this agreement, the case had to be argued twice, first by a panel of three judges and then all nine of them wanted to hear it or all seven of them I’m not doing my math right and even then it was a one paragraph decision and they didn’t really give any reasoning they ruled 4-3 that they were going to overturn these convictions and they were going to let Thomas out because it’s not a precedent-setting case, what’s interesting about it is it’s very long because of the four judges who dissented quite angry and did not feel they had brought enough evidence and actually thought that the eyewitness identifications that had not been recanted were enough and he should remain in prison. So even with all of this cooperation and I think kind of looking at almost restorative justice as an action in litigation it was extremely difficult to prevail. But he was released on his 46th birthday and that’s a picture of Thomas and his mom outside of the prison and he said, I’m glad my mother is alive that she can see this. So we think about that in a traditional way as the end of the story because we think okay well now it’s time for the happy ending. I think a lot of people are really invested in the idea of happy endings and we think okay well that’s really the end of the movie. But of course what you’re left with is all of this trauma. Because actually exoneration are extremely traumatic. So when I was talking to Janet she talked about suffocating with guilt and anxiety and wanting to feel free but feeling trapped. And Thomas also saying that he felt almost lonely in the joyfulness that he felt in his release and it was very hard for her people to understand what he had been through and very hard for him to readjust to the real world. So they are both kind of struggling in their own ways. And this just goes to I think this myth that we have that there’s this happily ever after where you can ride off into the sunset and everything is great and we love to believe that. And I think that’s something that we really like to feel strongly about in the cases of wrongful conviction. But I think it makes more sense to think about exonerations as earthquakes because they are extremely disruptive and in the wake of an exoneration there’s all of this upheaval and there is ruin and there’s the ruin of ideals, there’s the ruin of a sense of security in the way their Government is supposed to operate and the way their justice system is supposed to operate and even in the idea that there is such a thing as justice. So what I think of it as, I think of it as a psychological prison. Because when the exoneration occurs and the person is set free, there’s still this sense that people are trapped. And incarcerated in these emotional psychological psychic prisons they are very difficult to get out of. So it really led me to think in the wake of Cash’s exoneration in the differences between the criminal and restorative justice system the criminal justice system asks three basic questions it focuses on what law was broken who broke it and how we should punish that person in our society what that often means is we punish that person to the maximum extent possible because we believe in retribution. And we believe in deterrence. And restorative justice is more interested in asking who was harmed with this holistic concentric circle idea of harm? What are the needs of the harmed people? And whose obligation is it to meet those needs? So it’s a real radical reframing of crime and punishment, of harm and healing. People ask how it works. It works in a lot of different ways, a famous example is South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission which some people might be familiar with after the end of apartheid there was a Commission that was set up to address some of the wounds and harms inflicted by apartheid which were legion there weren’t prosecutions there were testimonials by the victims there was testimony by the perpetrators and there was some effort at some kind of reparations. In the United States we often have victim offender dialogues I know there are some people here in this audience who have experienced them who have been victims themselves who have come face-to-face with people who have harmed their loved ones. There are also healing circles where it can be a bigger group of people. You can have the person who was harmed the person who committed the harm, support groups, family members, therapists, other people who are experts in restorative justice facilitators. It’s really considered in some ways an anecdote to the School-to-Prison Pipeline it’s becoming more popular in the U.S. with children because we think of children as more capable of redemption and rehabilitation but there are also some pilot programs that are offering restorative justice to adults and there’s one actually that I looked at in Boston called RISE which stands for repair invest succeed and emerge. When I started looking at this I found the people who I think in the wrongful conviction context really kind of brought this idea forward that restorative justice could apply in wrongful convictions and that’s Jennifer Thompson and ren nald Cotton that co-wrote this book Picking Cotton some in the audience may have read it’s a similar story to Janet and Thomas’ but a single case they came together after Ronald’s DNA exoneration formed this bond what Jennifer says is they were practicing restorative justice without even realizing it that she had reached out to Ronald in the years after his release they had met in a church and had this incredibly emotional reunion and then formed a relationship. What Jennifer ended up doing was starting an organization called Healing Justice to offer the same kind of service and programming that she and Ronald Cotton had done in this really ad hoc informal way. That she wanted to systematize it and make it available to more people so I started observing some of the work of Healing Justice and I went to one of their retreats. And while I was looking into this, Janet also had gotten in touch with Jennifer so she and Thomas were thinking about attending a retreat or trying to figure out how really to meet each other. And Janet was very interested in sitting down with Thomas. And so she went to Shaun, Thomas’ lawyer she told me Shaun I think you need the right victim and right exoneree at the right point in their awards they decided they were giving an award to Jennifer Thompson for all of her advocacy champion of justice award that Attorney General Eric Holter gave to her she decided they were going to have Janet and Thomas co-present this award even though they had never met each other so they were going to meet in the weeks leading up to this event and then surprise Jennifer by co-presenting it. And Shaun basically was in the role of the restorative justice facilitator. And Janet was extremely nervous leading up to this meeting and I think so was Thomas and it was a very emotional meeting. They met in a conference room. And Janet cried, became extremely emotional and this is what Thomas told her, I think it’s really beautiful. He said, I cannot forgive with my love. I can forgive with God’s love. My love is imperfect but God’s love is perfect. I can give that. And they have this — they had this really meaningful reconciliation and then a couple of weeks later they stood together and gave Jennifer Thompson her award and Janet told publicly the story of what had happened to her for first time and I think for Jennifer she saw the work she was doing coming full circle and she realized that the project that she was taking on was much bigger than her own particular case and Ronald’s case and their own particular relationship and actually this was something that you could apply to so many other people to help them. So the concept of healing Justice and these reunions instead of avoiding what happened or try to push it away or bury it you go back to the crash site and you sort through the wreckage with the other person. The other person who was on the other side of the courtroom, the person who you thought could never understand. But in the end is the only person who can completely understand. And part of that is thinking about the crime and the trial and the conviction and aftermath as a shared traumatic experience. As something that you have together and you heal from together. And also thinking about it if this is something that’s empowering to you as a means of reform. And there are many exonerees and crime victims who are forming coalitions to advocate for reforms to the system that would stop things like this from happening in the first place. But there are also situations where it doesn’t always work. And we were talking at dinner a bit about how we think that maybe if we compensate people and we give them money, that that will somehow ameliorate the situation and make their pain go away and we can talk more in the question and answer session about this but the U.S. is very odd in the sense that whether you get any money after a wrongful conviction depends on the state that you live in and some states like my home state of Pennsylvania give you no money. Other states make you prove certain things to get money some states give you very little in this case in North Carolina which is the same state actually where Jennifer Thompson was attacked a man named Darrell Hunt served 20 years on a wrongful conviction and he actually got I think over $2 million when he was exonerated which sounds like a lot of money and he got married and he traveled the world. He made a film that was shown at Sundance and so you would think that he was living this wonderful life. And Jennifer and — Jennifer had been in touch with Darrell Hunt because they served on a Board together and lived in the same area so when she started Healing Justice she invited him to the first retreat that she had and he never showed up no one could get in touch with him or figure out what was going on on the last day of the retreat he learned he had killed himself he had shot himself in a parked car alone so this is a picture of the ceremony that they had at this retreat which is supposed to be about healing and reconciliation and turned into a memorial of Darrell’s life and those are — you can’t see but on the table are his initials DH and one of the things they talked about is how important it is to really have reconciliation and to do this work earlier on rather than later. Darrell was someone who had been Exonerated in 2001 but 15 years later he had not healed from what had happened I think in part because everyone assumed he was doing so well. Because all of these markers of success. He had a settlement. He had a wife. He had a job. But he had never really dealt with the pain and the trauma of having been wrongfully incarcerated in his particular case, too, which was extreme and he had been self-medicating and become depressed so the idea really is to catch people before they get to this point. It’s not just exonerees, I think there are many victims to whom this happens, as well. So that’s a picture of the memorial which I think is quite beautiful that they made. But there are also stories of triumph this is just a short story of this man named Jerome Morgan who I met an exoneree from Louisiana so I’m hoping my own client follows very only’s path I will say he was more than one of 20 black men who has been exonerated in Louisiana all of whose trials lasted less than a day including my client but he hasn’t been exonerated yet but Jerome is someone who when he got out he took advantage of Healing Justice and did retreats and did the hard work at the outset the picture of him in the baseball cap was two years before he was convicted of a murder he didn’t commit so the picture in the middle was his nonprofit for seed money he got seed money to start a barbershop to teach young men a vocation and skill and to be part of the community and to give back there are happy stores that come out of Healing Justice these are some of them but these are people who have been wrongly convicted or family members or exonerees or victims who have come to these retreats and connected with each other in a way I think it’s very powerful and there’s also stories of reform. And people — all of the people in these pictures. I’m a little over my time I don’t want to get too far into it suffice it to say they have been successfully advocating for changes in the law to prevent a lot of the injustices that led to their situations coming about. And then the year that I went to the retreat, they had this really beautiful ceremony on the last day. They brought this sapling from the Oklahoma City bombing folks may remember was in 1995 that was the bombing that resulted in deaths in many, many people in a Federal building in Oklahoma City including the deaths of children who were in the nursery school there, the day care center. So Oklahoma has this tree that survived the bombing it was in the parking lot and the parking lot was pretty much decimated but somehow the tree actually survived the fires that resulted from the bombing so they replanted it and made it part of this memorial that you’re looking at and they give saplings to certain applicants and it’s — saplings to certain applicants it’s hard to get one and take it out of state but they were convinced to give a sapling to one of the Healing Justice participants so she can take it from Oklahoma back to North Carolina for Darrell Hunt’s ceremony which they had for him a couple of years after his death. And this is what Jennifer Thompson said when we planted the sapling at the retreat. She said, this tree is in memory of Darrell Hunt. And all those we couldn’t save and all of those that we won’t save. But it is also in honor of all of us here and all of us who have survived. This tree will shelter us, provide shade and endure and we will watch it grow. We are still standing. And our roots are deep. And then I like to end with this picture. That’s Cash and me last year. So we see each other fairly often I would say and I’m happy to report that he is doing very well. He also was fortunate I suppose fortunate is the right word, he got a very — he got a large amount of money from Los Angeles both from the state also after suing them and he’s living a nice peaceful life his mom is still alive which I’m happy to say and he is happily partnered with someone and they are living I think a pretty good post-conviction existence. So that is the conclusion of my presentation. I went on a little long. I apologize for that. I’m curious to listen to any questions or answer any questions that folks have. Thank you. (Applause).>>Thank you very much, great talk.>>LARA BAZELON: Oh, sorry.>>Please come down. Use these microphones that Gene is fixing up for you. And ask some questions. Talk about restorative justice. How about a student or two? LARA BAZELON: I see someone.>>Here comes somebody.>>LARA BAZELON: I know.>>Okay.>>Good morning and — good evening. Thank you for such a wonderful talk.>>LARA BAZELON: Hi .>>I’m just curious if you can give us any suggestions for specific actionable steps that we as community members in, you know, a small town in the middle of Minnesota might be able to do to move forward with the movement.>>LARA BAZELON: So I think there are a couple of things that are fairly easy to do. One of them is to donate to your local innocence project because even like 25 or $50 can make a big difference I should have said this at the beginning but there’s kind of the mothership innocence project that was founded by Barry and Peter in New York and then there are littler ones like the ones in Los Angeles that I directed they are in part dependent on nonprofits they are dependent on donations so even small donations I think really helps them staff up these cases and work the cases in even — and even hire new people to help and reach more people so I think that’s just one small step. I think also another one is just being conscious of how all of this stuff plays out. And not taking for granted the stories that are I think the kind of convenient criminal justice stories that are often portrayed by the media where there’s sort of a bad guy and a perfect good guy and a perfect victim and a horrible monster that it’s so much more complicated often than we ever are really led to believe and it’s not a black and white situation and even if you can reorient your perspective in more global way and think about things differently than you otherwise might have, I think that’s important step of all of us reorienting our perspective. And then I also think another thing that’s important is to really pay attention to what’s on your local ballot and vote. I think voting for especially whoever your DA is is hugely important. And there’s all this attention right now on what’s going on in the Federal Government with our U.S. Attorney General. And rightly so. It is concerning. It’s very concerning. And it’s also important to remember that there are only 100,000 people who are prosecuted Federally every year. There are — everyone else, 90% of the people who go through the system go through the system in state court that means the people deciding their fate are DAs who elects the DAs, you do it’s the big difference between having the kind of DA that I was up against and having the kind of DA who was more helpful in Thomas’ case more and more we’re hearing about district attorneys running on these progressive platforms I think it’s important to vote in those elections people think it’s not important it’s local but it matters tremendously it happens more I think than what’s happening nationally although it doesn’t seem to be the case I urge people to vote for candidates and vote for who you think will do justice or not a powerful person or who you voted for ten times in the past.>>Hi you kind of touched on this a little bit but I have in Dr. Morgan’s peace and justice class. I realize I was not talking into the microphone. Sorry about that. But one thing we struggled with is how do you apply restorative justice? Like how do we get to that point? Like our class, we talked about it. But it’s just so hard to just change. So how, as Americans, do we do that?>>LARA BAZELON: That’s a really good question because our system is obviously extremely adversarial so we default to the adversarial model. So part of it is educating people. A lot of people don’t know what restorative justice is I’m embarrassed to say until 2015 I was one of those people so I think there’s a lot about this that involves raising awareness. But I also think — I think it starts with your own life and the stories we tell ourselves about relationships in our own lives not necessarily criminal but that have impacted us and broken apart although about it a lot in writing this book I had this narrative I told myself about this fundamental important relationship that went wrong where I felt that I had been victimized and the other person was the perpetrator I think we often think that in our lives when something goes wrong with people who have the ability to harm us. You can even start applying it in your own life and think well there’s another side to that narrative and try to put yourself on the other side of that. Really, really put yourself there. And think have I been telling myself a story while real to me it isn’t the whole story isn’t there a which on some level I’m responsible too and that you can see relationships in all of their complexities and understand that there are perpetrators and victims on both sides all in one relationship. Which is more common than you would think. And I think just an important point for all of us to take with us even if we have no contact with the criminal justice system.>Hi. So you talked about restorative justice circles and programs where the perpetrator and the victim sort of reconcile. Do you think that law enforcement and parts of the criminal justice system like the defense and whoever was prosecuted, do you think they have a place in those circles? And how should that sort of integrate, if you do?>>LARA BAZELON: I do think that they do and I feel like that’s kind of the next step and I’m glad you asked that. I think that’s the important next frontier that program that I mentioned briefly in Boston called RISE they have the prosecutors and defense attorneys in the circle with the offender and the victim. Now in those cases, it’s different than what I’ve been talking about in the sense that the person who is going through the re– restorative justice program has entered a guilty plea and pending a sentencing and completion of this program is something that the judge takes into account in the sentencing they are selective in this process they think the person could benefit from RJ but they also think the probation officer the judge and prosecutor could benefit from it too so they all participate when you talk to the judge who set it up and the other judges who participate and the assistant United States attorney and Federal Public Defender and the probation officers they all describe the experience as transformative so it is important to make them part of it and to make it real to them because I think for people who are in the system it seems like — it’s hard to talk about it without it seeming very kumbaya hippy dippie for them to be there and be invested and have skin in the game and participate makes enormous difference to make them think it really works and they should scale it up and talk to other jurisdictions about adopting it.>>Thank you.>>Hi. So I was thinking about this paper that I wrote a couple of years ago called the moral justification for monetary compensation. And in my case I was writing about like colonization issues and countries that have been totally destroyed by things and have had zero forms of reconciliation. And when we’re talking more about humans and one-on-one, I’m wondering, does monetary compensation allow perpetrators to get off more easily because they are able to pay for their sins literally rather than having to go through some sort of transformative process?>>LARA BAZELON: So I don’t think that money by itself can ever really be a satisfying solution for the reason that you said I think what a lot of victims want — I’m moving into more traditional situations where you have someone who is harmed, someone who committed the harm and we know who those people are. And when you talk to victims in that context who are interested in restorative justice as an option, they may very well want to be compensated for various things, emotional distress, property destruction, therapy, there’s a laundry list. But the money itself is often unusually not enough and I think what most victims want is acknowledgement and recognition by the person who harmed them or harmed their loved one that they are reckoning with what they have done and they are going to take responsibility for it. So if you just hand someone money and think you’re going to make them whole and you can walk away, that is probably a mistaken belief and I think in the Darrell Hunt exoneration case you can see how just handing someone some money and convincing yourself it’s going to be okay generally means that it’s probably not. So I think at the core of restorative justice is really that personal connection and the acknowledgement and the reckoning with the harm that was caused. And that’s not something that you can pay for.>>Thank you.>>No more questions?>>I have one. I think it’s critically important for all of you to know that in this community you — I think it’s critically important for all of you to know that in this community in the prisons in duluth here you have a restorative justice program going on in duluth you have a program going on right now in moose lake prison down the road you have a restorative justice program going on and in (inaudible) County you have a restorative justice going on so it’s happening right now in this county and Carlton County and for those who want information about it or want to get involved in restorative justice in this county or Carlton County it exists strongly we have a precharge diversion for youth in Carlton County and we have a program called Inside Out where they go out into the community and talk to the School-to-Prison Pipeline it exists here I’m really proud we have a strong RJ program in our area here in Duluth. And lots and lots of different advocates for that. So I just wanted to share that because I think it’s critically important for this community to know.>>LARA BAZELON: Thank you. And I’m glad to hear it. And I’m not surprised because Duluth is so progressive I just also think it’s important to say there’s a lot of restorative justice going on inside of prisons that does some amazing rehabilitative work.>>Two questions. First one is about going forward and things that could change now. There’s one that seems pretty straightforward it just requires a commitment and that’s actually testing every rape kit and testing every drug test and there’s nothing but money and commitment in the way to make that happen and even doing it in 90 days like we’re not talking 5 years. This is not that difficult so that’s No. 1 and I just don’t understand why that hasn’t happened yet. No. 2 is what can we do about eyewitness testimony, this is something that there’s 50 years of history that shows it’s horrible. Racial disparities are off the chart, abysmal. And how do we in our U.S. justice system, if you look at what we’re looking at change the emphasis that is put on eyewitness identification, which is just proven to be horrible.>>LARA BAZELON: So I’ll take the second question first. And I’m sad to say that I pretty much have given up on the United States Supreme Court with respect to eyewitness identification but I do think there are some states that have taken really good steps and have great laws in place. Actually particularly in North Carolina due to Jennifer and Ronald they now have eyewitness identification laws that are really strict and in particular allow for expert testimony so juries can understand when you hear I’m 100% certain that’s not necessarily the case and that juries are educated by the way that lineups are conducted show-ups are conducted in ways that can suggest the answer or put pressure on the witness even if it doesn’t seem like that’s what happened even to the person themselves so there are some states that are role models in this area. And I don’t know why it is because you’re right, we have known since the 1970s that this is a problem and it really is difficult for me to understand why my client is doing 60 years with no possibility of parole based on the worst possible identification procedure you could imagine, which is the one that Thomas Hanesworth was subjected to where there’s literally no one to compare the person to it’s cross racial they are in handcuffs therefore police officers on either side and they say do you think that’s the person and that’s the whole case and it’s stunning to me that that’s still happening and it’s shameful and I think that the only way to combat it is to pass these state laws which is something that I’m working on in California because I’m embarrassed to say that California doesn’t have a particularly good law, although at least it’s not as bad as some states that disallow eyewitness identification experts to testify at all so it’s not a very satisfying answer. I think it’s an incremental process where you have to go state by state and educate legislators often by bringing forward exonerees and victims who are saying, this is what happened. Don’t let this happen to anybody else. To convince them to carry these bills forward and to pass them. So I think that’s where we are with eyewitness identification. And then with respect to how else we can go about kind of repairing the system, I mean I definitely feel that there’s this sense that we’re kind of stuck a little bit. It seems like on the Federal level we’re seeing a lot of things going backwards. But I’m heartened by the comment before your question, which was about what was happening in your community and I think at this point for those of us who are disheartened by what is happening, nationally and maybe seeing things in some respects go backwards, we can look internally to our own communities and see movement forward. And it’s important to be attentive to that and grow that and be aware of that and support it in any way that we can whether it’s here or in some other state. Because I really feel at this point that that’s the only way that change is going to happen.>>In regards to our current prison systems, there seems to be the trend towards privatization. And do you have any real comments on how it affects everything you have talked about tonight?>>LARA BAZELON: So I think privatization of prisons makes a bad situation even more hellish and horrible. Because the problem with a for-profit prison industry is that we’re trying — they are trying to make a profit so instead of spending $5 on someone who is incarcerated they will spend $1 all of the things we hear about prisons how violent they are and how horrible the quality of care, medical care, food, health, eccetera, all of those things are just exacerbated when you’re talking about a private entity that’s trying to make a profit off of people who are incarcerated. And at the same time the private prison industry was sort of slowly going by the wayside but now with the recent Administration it’s kind of come back. In a more visceral prominent way, which I think is highly unfortunate. So I think — I’m very against private prisons I guess is the short answer to your question. I think they are bad. Very bad.>>Good evening.>>LARA BAZELON: Hi.>>My name is Stan Hendrickson I’ve lived here in Duluth all my life I own 360 acres of property at the end of — can you hear me all right?>>LARA BAZELON: I can hear you>>And I was — I had a judgment against me for 330 some thousand dollars. They took the property and sold the property. Which they can do. And then another brother redeemed the property and, therefore, nobody appealed it to the Minnesota appellate court or the Supreme Court. And the court would not honor the — honor it. And therefore, when he redeemed, that makes it clear and clear of any debts that were paid, whether it was a million dollars or 500,000 or whatever. But it was redeemed for $23,000. Five attorneys went back in and said he couldn’t own the property that way. That was not the way it was done. But after that was done, the state redeemer of properties went in and vacated 55.0.25 which states that anyone can come in and buy the property and once it’s purchased and it’s not appealed, it is a clear title to the owner. I’ve been fighting that now for the last 25 years. I appealed it to the United States Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court said that it was filed late. Couldn’t possibly be late when it was mailed on a Monday and the following — not the following Sunday — the following Sunday it was time to file. That was the deadline. But they claimed they never got it. Pardon?>>Is there a question? Do you have a question?>>Well, the question is, how do we go about people honoring Minnesota statutes? They violated at least 25 of them in my case time and time again. I present them to the Court. The Court just ignores them. So what do we do?>>LARA BAZELON: Well, I don’t practice in Minnesota. So I can’t advise you about what Minnesota statutes say or don’t say. What I can say is that you’re pointing to a problem that a lot of people have which is they are often told by courts that the court doesn’t want to hear their case on the merits which means the basis of the case, the claim, the actual claim of injury. And instead what they are saying is you filed too late or you filed at the wrong place or you filed at the wrong time or you said the wrong thing in the wrong way. And those are procedural defaults and technical limitations that have two purposes. One is to streamline litigation. But the other one is to keep people out of court. And it sounds to me as if that is what has been happening to you. But that’s just my guess based on what you told me. Is that those are technicalities that are designed for that purpose.>>Well, we have to get these things straightened out because it’s likely these murder cases and other things, county attorneys have just violated the laws and the statutes, peoples’ rights, other people have come in and testified and lied to the court. And one of the gentleman later was found that his DNA was not there in Oklahoma. Neither was his partner, which they both spend 15 years in jail. They finally released them. But one of the gentlemen, after about a year, he committed suicide because he couldn’t walk up and down the streets without probably thinking that they were still saying, hey, he still did it regardless.>>LARA BAZELON: Yes.>>Regardless it doesn’t go around.>>LARA BAZELON: Yes, you’re right. It’s wrong.>>One more question.>>Hello .>>LARA BAZELON: Hi.>>Do you know anything about the Indian Child Welfare Act? Do you know anything about the Indian Child Welfare Act?>>LARA BAZELON: No.>>Oh. (Chuckles).>>LARA BAZELON: Do you?>>Well, are you a Federal attorney?>>LARA BAZELON: I was a Federal Public Defender from 2001 to 2008 but we never had any Indian Child Welfare Act cases in Los Angeles.>>What if a social worker is like — makes false statements? And so. Hold on. Like lies and is a corrupt social worker.>>LARA BAZELON: You mean lies to get somebody else wrongfully convicted?>>Yeah, like their children.>>LARA BAZELON: Like the cases where they claim that there’s been child abuse but there’s no child abuse? Something like that?>>In cases where they didn’t follow the equal law.>>LARA BAZELON: So social workers aren’t — I don’t think held to any different standard than a doctor or a civilian or any witness who comes in and lies. So a lie is a lie. No matter who tells it. And if you can show that the person, whoever they were, a nurse, a teacher, a doctor, a layperson, came in and lied under oath and that lie led to someone else’s conviction, then that’s a basis for overturning it. You don’t have to be any particular person to have that be true. That’s true — perjury is perjury.>>And after children are adopted by like the state, you know, is it possible to overturn the adoption?>>LARA BAZELON: I think it probably depends on the state. I mean, are you asking me so a social worker comes in and says it’s some kind of unsafe environment and based on that testimony the Court removes the child and then later the parent-child relationship is terminated and the child is adopted elsewhere.>>Yes.>>LARA BAZELON: I think it’s a state by state situation I don’t think in California you can undo the adoption once you have a final adoption in California and the court has signed off on and rights have been legally terminated, I don’t believe there’s a way to undo that but that said I’m not a family law attorney.>>(off microphone).>>Okay.>>I would be interested in your opinion on the death penalty. We still have that in 29 states. And from what I understand, there’s like 4500 people on death row.>>LARA BAZELON: So I feel that the death penalty the way I feel about private prisons which is I do not think that the death penalty is appropriate. That’s putting it mildly. One of the states that has the death penalty is California. We have 728 people on death row in California. And the national statistics show that at least 4% of them are innocent. It’s pretty outrageous. What’s also very, very troubling is that there are many states that are executing people at quite a fast clip including Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, there are states that really make very quick work of it and there are certain cases, certain famous notorious cases where it’s pretty clear that they executed the wrong person so even if you are someone who believes in retribution which I don’t as some kind of healing mechanism for victims, this is a system that fails. And also is undeniably racist. And in California our new Governor in 2019 declared a moratorium on the death penalty meaning that he wasn’t going to execute anybody as long as he was the Governor. And many, many of the local DAs across California are continuing to get capital verdicts and put people on death row because their thinking is they will just wait him out and then they can start up the execution chamber all over again. The DA in Los Angeles has gotten 22 death penalty verdicts in the 4 years that she’s been in office and they are all against black and Latino men. Every single one of them. I wish someone in this audience lived in Los Angeles County and could vote because there’s a DA election in Los Angeles in March and she’s being challenged in part she’s being challenged on that record so in — the truth is I think the death penalty is — I think it’s racist and expensive and it doesn’t bring I don’t think any real solace to anyone. (Applause).>>Thank you for your very eloquent discourse this evening. I’m a recent new person here to the state of Minnesota from Georgia. And one of the concerns I have is in your presentation, you very well stated that a large number of exonerations were scientifically based on DNA. And in my former home state, I’m not sure about the state of Minnesota, there’s such a large backlog on DNA with respect to rape kits as well as other violent crimes that could exonerate someone based on DNA. You’ve spoken about donations for restorative justice and so forth. Is there any way we can as private citizens help defray some of the costs? Because that’s one of the biggest arguments states have for processing DNA kits.>>LARA BAZELON: You’re right.>>If we can help get this — because I think more people would be exonerated if we can get the scientific portion of the justice system in sync.>>LARA BAZELON: You’re right and actually this goes to the first part of that question from the gentleman I forgot to answer which is about the rape kit backlog which is horrific it’s not just horrific because the DNA could exonerate people it’s horrific because as was brought up earlier these kits are not being tested in the first instance so victims are often being told we’re not going to move your case forward we don’t have the evidence we don’t have the evidence and they do scream and cry about poverty of and how impoverished they are and they can’t really test it and usually that’s not really true and sometimes in San Francisco for example they have to be shamed into doing their actual job so we had an infamous rape kit backlog because of the advocacy of several sexual assault survivors who brought it to the attention of the police commission got the media’s attention that there was a glare cast on the police in this crime lab they found they had been stockpiling these rape kits it really wasn’t about the money and it often isn’t. It’s really about I don’t know bureaucracy things getting bogged down and not prioritizing and caring about that kind of a case to the detriment of the people who were harmed and the detriment of the people who like Thomas Hanesworth are locked up and this goes back to this original point but while the prosecuting attorney isn’t directly responsible because they can only bring the cases they are given, they work hand in hand with the police department and they can bring a lot of pressure on the police and say I ran on a platform of testing every rape kit which is what our new DA ran on that creates an incentive saying I ran on this you need to partner to make this a reality you need to go in and test the rape kits you have the money you need to do it if it’s a question of funding then again bring political pressure on the City Council and Mayor there are things we can do as citizens locally we feel so disempowered because everything that’s happening nationally seems vastly out of control but locally we do have control and locally we can make a difference I know we’re all busy with all of the things we’re doing but even just as I was saying paying attention in voting or going to a protest or following local events, as assiduously as we follow everything else that’s happening can really make a big difference. A lot of what goes on are these excuses, money, time, that are quite frankly fake. And that when you call them out and force people to do their jobs, they do them. (Applause).>>Maybe our last question, all right?>>Thank you so much.>>LARA BAZELON: You’re welcome.>>This should be a quick one. And it’s a little lighter. So I was just wondering if you could give us an easy definition of assault and I want to give you a scenario.>>LARA BAZELON: Oh my God it’s like a law school exam. Okay. (Chuckles).>>Okay. All right. So say there’s two brothers. And they get along for the most part. Totally different personalities. Joe and Kelly let’s say are their names. Joe and — Joe, lively guy likes to tell tall tales Kelly is a little more serious. Well they are at a bar and Joe starts talking smack about his brother Kelly Kelly doesn’t like it that particular day he’s not in such a good mood grabs Joe by the collar, glares at him and then releases him with a shove. Joe charges Kelly with assault. Do you think that Kelly will face a conviction?>>LARA BAZELON: That’s an assault and a battery. I mean all it takes to assault someone is just to have them be in reasonable fear that they are going to make an unwanted contact with you assault is a pretty low standard a battery is a contact you have described both things you described a person being in fear in touching the way they didn’t want and then the unlawful touching so to answer the law school exam yes it’s an assault and yes it’s a battery.>>Thank you. (Applause) 2 (Applause).>>Well, thank you all very much for coming and thank you for a wonderful evening.>>LARA BAZELON: Thank you, thank you so much. (Applause).>>And we’ll be out in the lobby. There can be more conversation and maybe you’ll sell a few books Thank you, all, for coming.>>LARA BAZELON: Thank you.>>The next one is March 3rd.

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